Joints are a beautiful thing. They allow you to move, stretch and lift, all while supporting the weight of your body. As you age, your joints can start to show some signs of wear and tear, but there are some simple things that you can do now to keep your joints healthy.
John Martino, M.D., with Carilion Clinic Orthopaedics, shares his four top tips for keeping your hinges smooth.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Staying at a healthy body weight is one of the most important and effective ways to keep your joints healthy.
“For every pound you’re overweight, you are putting 5-7 pounds of excessive pressure on your weight bearing joints, which later may contribute to major hip and knee issues,” says Dr. Martino.
Get Enough Calcium
Dr. Martino also recommends following a balanced diet high in calcium and vitamin D. Choosing veggies like lettuce, broccoli, spinach and kale is a good way to boost your intake of calcium, along with the usual sources like milk, yogurt and supplements. Turmeric and glucosamine/chondroitin are common supplements that can help with joint pain. And another great tip—kick the soda habit.
“Many of my patients are surprised to learn how cola drinks can significantly drain calcium absorption to the bones,” explains Dr. Martino. Not only that, soda (and sweet tea) are a major source of hidden calories.
If you already experience joint pain, strengthening the muscles and ligaments around your joints can improve your pain level and functionality without surgery.
“I tell patients to keep using their joints even if they hurt because if you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Dr. Martino. “Instead, find a way to accomplish what you need to do in a less painful way. Our orthopaedics team works with patients to figure how they can do just that.”
Many of us sit most of the day at work, which constantly flexes our knees and hips. Help your joints by taking a break once each hour— get up, walk around or stretch.
Low-impact exercise is easy on your joints. Try riding a stationary bike, swimming, going to a water aerobics class, or using an elliptical machine over walking, jogging or climbing stairs.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you are experiencing joint pain, your health care provider can offer some information about how you can deal with the pain—with or without medication.
“Many people think their joints are going to last forever, but they may not,” says Dr. Martino. “You need to ‘buy in’ to making positive changes to your bone and joint health. Our team at Carilion Clinic Orthopaedics help you do just that.”